2019 and the “Earth Overshoot Day”

Human interference on the environment, through History, has been producing many changes on the planet. Deforestation, scarcity of water resources, biodiversity decay and a significant increase of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere constitute, among other, the trail we are leaving behind on our planet.

Have you ever stopped to question how we act? We extract from Nature in all its exuberance and we reciprocate with an environment completely devastated and consumed in its resources, in the hope that it will regenerate itself to its full speed. Putting Earth through such an effort is our modus vivendi and, above all else, this excessive demand on the Earth’s capability to regenerate is part of the modern societies’ lifestyle.

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From this perspective, it becomes easy to understand the concept of “ecological footprint”, which is the signature of humanity’s pressures over the biocapacity of our planet, in other words, its ability to recover from the damages imposed by human beings. It’s a kind of environmental accountability, an analysis on the overall balance of human expenses on the natural patrimony, which, in quite a drastic manner, could be understood as the trail of destruction left by us on the course of our existence.

The same way our body regenerates from the daily expenses and excesses committed, so does the planet. When humankind deforests, nature heals, covering the area with new vegetation, luring back biodiversity. When we pollute a water body, the biochemical processes of the environment recompose to its previous condition. This is when the body gets ill and so does Earth.

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With that in mind, the “Earth Overshoot Day” was created. Global Footprint Network (GFN) is an international NGO fighting for causes related to sustainability. GFN came up with a method to measure the ecological footprint, using as reference the area necessary to generate products, goods and services which would compensate what has been consumed.

That way, every year, on a daily basis, the balance is made between receipts and expenses. Our amount of consumption is measured and confronted with the planet’s ability to regenerate. When this math doesn’t add up, it means we came to a point where our consumption overruled what the productive areas of the planet could restore. That is the “Earth Overshoot Day”.

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On this year of 2019, this day came on the past 29th of July. On this day, we consumed all of the Earth’s capability for regeneration. Each year, this date is anticipated, meaning that we are running out of resources sooner and sooner. This means that maybe our decisions may not be receiving the necessary thought before we opt for the destiny we wish. Take a look at how it has been since de year 2000:

Confronted with this scenario, some governments are trying to spread the need for finding solutions that might reduce resources usage. That’s what it means finding the way to sustainability.

Per example: have you ever heard about Circular Economy? This subject was covered on a previous post. What can each of us do?

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It could all come down to an attitude: rethink your ecological footprint and identify which inputs you use on your day-to-day life and, as constantly as possible, opt for alternatives that use less resources. Do you need an example? Packages! Choose for products with less packages. They are usually made out of paper or plastic. One of them uses a natural product while the other simply pollutes the environment when it gets to end of the chain.

That is the first and the most important attitude: rethinking your own ecological footprint.

Dr. Carlos Avelino

Lawyer | Coach | Socio-environmental Auditor and Consultant

(This post was written with the participation of collaborators.)

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